Why rich kids are so good at the marshmallow test

Marshmallow test

DO IT SOMETIME What’s up? The marshmallow test is one of the most famous pieces of social-science research: Put a marshmallow in front of a child, tell her that she can have a second one if she can go 15 minutes without eating the first one, and then leave the room. Passing the test is considered an indicator of a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) , a promising signal of future success. This much-quoted 1990 study suggested that delayed gratification had huge benefits, including on such measures as standardised test scores.
What’s new?  A recent revisitation of this experiment by one with more numbers and a diverse population came up with a contrary finding and explanation. It suggests that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background-and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success. It suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. In other words, a second marshmallow seems irrelevant when a child has reason to believe that the first one might vanish. These findings point to the idea that poorer parents try to indulge their kids when they can, while more-affluent parents tend to make their kids wait for bigger rewards.Even if children of wealthier parents don’t delay gratification, they can trust that things will all work out in the end — that even if they don’t get the second marshmallow, they can probably count on their parents to take them out for ice cream instead.
So what? There’s plenty of other research that sheds further light on the class dimension of the marshmallow test.
SOURCE:  The Atlantic

 

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